Sacred Heart Prep junior Cammie Merten and her sister, Menlo School freshman Elisa, faced off for the first time this season in a West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) match.
At stake for the Gators was retaining sole possession of first place. For the Knights, they had an opportunity to earn a share of the top spot.
While both sisters played significant roles, it was SHP senior Sarah Daschbach who took over and led the Gators to a 25-17, 25-22, 25-22 victory. SHP improved to 5-0 (15-5 overall) and widened its lead while Menlo fell to 3-2 (17-6).
Daschbach led the way with 24 kills and 14 digs while junior Ellie Shannon contributed 13 kills and four blocks. Cammie Merten also had a big hand as she distributed 32 assists, sharing the role with Jojo Kurtzman, who added 21 assists.
Menlo junior Emma Thygesen tallied eight kills and two blocks and sophomore Morgan Dressel had six kills and a pair of blocks. Elisa Merten recorded 24 assists, five kills, four blocks, and four digs for the Knights while trying to get the better of her older sister, to no avail. Menlo sophomore Melissa Cairo notched 12 digs and senior Natalie Roy added a pair of aces.
"The team showed a lot of their strengths tonight, but in each match SHP took a big lead, and it was hard to come back from that," Menlo coach Atlee Hubbard said.
Menlo will have another shot at Sacred Heart Prep when the teams play in the Knights' gym on Nov. 3.
In other volleyball action Thursday night:
Castilleja suffered a shocking turnaround in its WBAL Foothill Division title hopes after dropping a 25-15, 27-25, 25-21 decision to host Mercy-San Francisco on Thursday. The loss knocked the Gators to 3-2 in league (15-10 overall) and two games behind first-place Sacred Heart Prep. Hannah Boland and Lucy Tashman each had nine kills for the Gators, whose coach Tracie Meskell is due to give birth to her first child on Saturday.
In Palo Alto, Senior Melanie Wade produced 21 kills to pace Palo Alto to a 25-19, 25-15, 25-11 sweep of visiting Mountain View in a SCVAL De Anza Division match on Thursday. The Vikings strengthened their hold on first place at 7-0 (20-3 overall) while opening the second half of the league season. Paly is now 61-4 in its past 65 matches. Paly senior Maddie Kuppe added 15 kills and helped limit Stanford-bound Brittany Howard of Mountain View to 15 kills as the Spartans fell to 3-4 (14-12).
In Los Gatos, Allison Doerpinghaus had nine kills but Gunn needed a lot more during a 25-14, 25-14, 25-12 loss to the Wildcats in a SCVAL De Anza Division match. The Titans fell to 1-6 in league (11-12 overall).
In Atherton, Menlo-Atherton kept its streak of perfection going in the PAL Bay Division race with a 25-6, 25-14, 25-20 dismantling of visiting San Mateo. Sophomore Pauli King had seven kills and junior Katelyn Doherty finished with seven kills and 13 digs for the Bears (8-0, 16-4), who also got 25 assists and eight digs from senior Sarah Collins in the easy win.
In Los Altos Hills, Pinewood (3-5, 7-6) battled its way to a 25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 20-25, 15-6 victory over Eastside Prep in a WBAL Skyline Division match. Pinewood wrapped things up by pulling out to an 8-1 lead in the fifth set. Kandace Korver had 15 kills, 12 digs and four aces for Pinewood while Jenn Bodine added 14 kills and 12 digs. Teammate Lindsay Riches contributed nine kills and 14 digs while setter Adrienne Whitlock dished out 27 assists and added nine digs. Pinewood freshman Annie Kong served six aces and had seven digs.
Daniel Pugliese of Menlo School and Kat Gregory of Priory won their second straight individual titles at the second West Bay Athletic League cross-country meet of the season on Thursday at Westmoor High in Daly City.
With Pugliese leading the way, the Menlo boys moved closer to defending their league championship with another solid effort. The Knights had to win after taking third in the first league meet.
Pugliese, a senior in his first season of cross country, clocked 13:12 to help the Knights score 48 points. Teammate Andrew Schmitt took third (13:24) and Matt Myers, recovering from an injury, ran seventh (13:48) as Menlo held off Crystal Springs (52) and third-place Sacred Heart Prep (71), which got a second-place finish from Zach Kaplan (13:16).
Gregory, a senior, toured the 2.4-mile layout in 14:50 for another comfortable victory. Sacred Heart prep freshman Gillian Belton was third in 15:37 while Castilleja junior Fiona Maloney-McCrystle was sixth in 16:17. The Menlo School girls ran second in the team competition, scoring 64 points to trail only Crystal Springs (54) while finishing ahead of third-place Sacred Heart Prep (69).
Menlo's finish allowed the Knights to remain in a three-way tie for first place in the WBAL standings. Menlo competed without its top runner, Maddy Price. She is out with an injury. Freshman Lizzy Lacy was the team's top finisher 12th (16:48) in her first varsity race.
"They ran with so much heart today. I am really proud of them, " Menlo coach Donoson FitzGerald said of his teams. "I feel grateful that we all shared this great experience today together."
"All the kids had to literally give all that they had today . . . even if one kid had a bad race, we would've been eliminated from the hunt for league title in both boys and girls,'' added Menlo assistant Jorge Chen said. "I cannot be any more proud of these kids."
Girls' water polo
In a battle between defending CCS championship teams from last season, Division II champ Sacred Heart Prep toppled Division I winner Menlo-Atherton, 12-5, in a nonleague match Thursday in the Gators' pool. Senior Maddie Casciaro and sophomore Morgan McCracken each tallied three times for SHP (14-2), which got 10 saves in goal from sophomore Kelly Moran.
In Palo Alto, the one-two punch of sisters Elizabeth and Caroline Anderson knocked out another opponent as Gunn disposed of visiting Los Gatos, 13-4, in a SCVAL De Anza Division match on Thursday. The host Titans (7-1, 9-6) got seven goals from Elizabeth and four from Caroline while remaining just a game back of first-place Los Altos.
In another SCVAL De Anza Division match, Palo Alto senior Skylar Dorosin tallied nine goals in a 14-2 blasting of Monta Vista. Shannon Scheel and Emma Wolfe each added a pair of goals for the Vikings (5-3, 11-7), who won for the second time this week.
In the PAL Bay Division, Anna Yu poured in five goals with Stephanie Flamen and Sara Holston adding three each as visiting Castilleja (2-0, 4-4) romped to a 20-3 victory over Aragon to remain tied for first place with Menlo-Atherton.
Boys' water polo
Bret Pinsker tallied four times and Will Conner added three as Palo Alto remained in contention for a possible co-title in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 10-7 victory over visiting Monta Vista on Thursday night. The Vikings improved to 8-1 in league (11-3 overall) to remain a game back of first-place Los Altos. Goalie Daniel Armitano had 10 saves for the Vikings.
Also in Palo Alto, Gunn goalie Harrison Waschura was the recipient of three goals each from Tyler Wilson and Michael Znidarsic as the Titans pulled away from visiting Los Gatos, 10-4. Gavin Kerr added two goals for the Titans while Coby and Ari Wayne each had one.